Sosei Heptares has entered translational medicine and R&D agreements with the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford, U.K., and KU Leuven, Belgium.
Sosei Heptares focuses on G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) focused structure-based drug design (SBDD) and development.
The focus of the agreements is to apply the innovative technologies and research capabilities of the respective academic groups to identify, validate and prioritize key GPCRs driving gastrointestinal and immune disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as targets for SBDD.
IBD is a heterogenous chronic inflammatory disease with an increasing worldwide prevalence. Between 1990 and 2017, the number of individuals with IBD increased from more than 3.5 million to nearly 7 million.
Despite the growing therapeutic landscape, more than 50% of patients with IBD fail to respond to conventional and advanced therapies. Primary reasons for therapeutic failure include the limited understanding of the precise proteins, cells and mechanisms that change in patients affected by this disease, as well as the poorly understood disease heterogeneity among patients.
New treatment opportunities
Studies from the research group of Alison Simmons at the MRC Human Immunology Unit, based in the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, will apply technologies in combination with access to human patient tissue samples to help uncover the role of GPCRs driving chronic intestinal inflammation and provide new opportunities for treatment in IBD.
Research at KU Leuven, led by Séverine Vermeire and Bram Verstockt, provides a complementary multi-omic profiling approach, which will interrogate highly curated patient samples to provide insights to the expression and function of GPCRs in the IBD “interactome”.
Through this work, the partners expect to identify and confirm in human organoid cultures the biological relevance of key GPCR targets in responding and non-responding patient populations to help drive further advances to make precision medicine a reality in IBD.
Sosei Heptares accelerating opportunities
Alastair Brown, SVP translational medicine at Sosei Heptares, said: “These agreements build on our commitment to excellence in Translational Medicine and support our GPCR Target Identification and Validation strategy. This strategy sees us partnering with leading academic research institutions to enhance our translational medicine capabilities and accelerate the opportunity to bring forward new GPCR targets for the treatment of gastrointestinal and immune disorders.
“Our partners, both in Oxford and Leuven, bring significant innovative and complementary skills that we believe will help Sosei Heptares develop a more informed understanding of the role of GPCRs in immune disorders and accelerate future drug discovery opportunities.”
Simmons added: “We are excited to be working with Sosei Heptares to combine our respective research capabilities to explore the function of key gastrointestinal GPCRs whose activity is altered in inflammation. We aim to test our findings in human tissue samples and explore how these could better inform structure-based drug design for new therapeutics to promote intestinal health in IBD.”
Vermeire said: “This agreement with Sosei Heptares is evidence of the significant interest and potential impact that improving our understanding of GPCRs may have on future treatments for IBD. We are thrilled to enter into this R&D agreement, which provides an important link between leading clinical academic centers and a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company pioneering GPCR-focused SBDD.”
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